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Johannesburg - The Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape had a break-even budget for 2014, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said on Tuesday at a summit on the future of the university.
“While WSU has not yet reached a state of healthy financial sustainability, clearly a great deal of effort has gone into clearing the backlogs and overdrafts,” Nzimande said.
Government intervention was partially responsible for the improvement at the institution, as a new statute was gazetted in January this year, said Nzimande.
“This has made it possible for us to commence with the implementation of a more appropriate divisional governance and management model for a university of this unique kind.”
This followed the appointment of Professor Lourens van Staden as the Administrator of the university in November 2011, after a report from the Independent Assessor indicated that the institution was in crisis.
“The Independent Assessor... indicated that WSU was an institution in crisis with the all-encompassing collapse of systems, governance and financial management,” said Nzimande.
The new council, which was being consulted for the extended six-month period of the Administrator, had been responsible for several positions which had already been filled.
He said the administrator had made progress in eight “Turnaround Projects” at the university.
These were institutional governance, academic enterprise, student governance, financial management, ICT Infrastructure, human resource management, teaching and learning technology, equipment and physical infrastructure, and resource planning.
The R858 million made available to the university over the past 29 months had contributed to new residences in Mthatha, said Nzimande.
“Significant progress has been made in this regard with visible projects including the construction of the new R40 million residences here in Mthatha, the first to be built at the nine-year old WSU.”
The National Skills Fund had invested R80 million in the SAICA/WSU project to re-accredit WSU to produce chartered accountants.
“The success of this project is most encouraging with student performance rated at over 90 percent,” said Nzimande.
“This university has been overhauled, given a new framework and an opportunity to refocus itself,” said Nzimande.